It’s truly sad to watch a once-dominant pitcher get hammered every time he takes the mound. We have seen it all too often lately, whether it’s Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, or John Smoltz.
Glavine appears to be having the decision made for him that he is done pitching at the major league level, and Johnson has yet to realize it too. But now it is Smoltz’s turn, and we will see very soon what decision he has made.
The Boston Red Sox gave Smoltz a shot, and in eight starts with the team, he was straight-up pitiful. The issue was compounded when the Red Sox began to decline, yielding first place to the New York Yankees.
So the Sox had no time to wait for Smoltz to possibly turn things around, and placed him on waivers Friday after a less-than-mediocre outing against the Yankees Thursday night.
So where should Smoltz go from here? He has already stated that he is interested in spending some time in the minors and returning for the playoff run as a reliever. While it sounds good on paper (and Smoltz has proven himself to be a solid reliever in the past), I think it’s time for Smoltzie to hang up the cleats and put away the glove.
If Smoltz makes an attempt to return as a relief pitcher, it would be for the second time in as many years. Last season, he sat out most of the first half to return as a closer for the Braves. That lasted one game, as he was rocked in his debut and left the game injured.
While it seems that Smoltz is healthy this season, there is no guarantee that he will be effective. He doesn’t have the dominant fastball of past years, and he isn’t the imposing figure on the mound that everyone knew was going to win the battle no matter who he faced.
I think there are a few teams that are willing to take a chance on the future Hall of Famer, but I hope Smoltz continues to be the incredibly intelligent person we have always known him to be. If he doesn’t have the stuff to get batters out anymore, he should walk away from the game.
Braves general manager Frank Wren has made a slew of brilliant moves this season, and I would like to see him make one more. I believe the Braves should sit down with Smoltz and offer him a one-day contract so he can retire as a member of the franchise with which he had so many great memories.
This is reliant on Smoltz’s willingness to retire now, of course. But down the road, whenever he decides to walk, I think Smoltz should walk away in a Braves uniform. Anything else just wouldn’t be right.